Hearing on replacement licensing rule changes switched to teleconference – March 20 Th!

The administrative rule hearing scheduled for Monday, March 23 at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks headquarters in Helena will now be a teleconference hearing.

The call in number will be (425) 436-6384 and callers will need to type in 709771 to get into the hearing. The call will start at 6 p.m.

The proposed rule changes will make it more convenient for customers to replace their hunting licenses and permits during this time of transition to regular paper for licenses and permits. The department anticipates an increase in need for replacement licenses during this transition.

Currently, license holders can replace a hunting license or permit that is lost, stolen or destroyed by signing an affidavit and submitting the affidavit at an FWP office or license provider and limits the number of replacements to two within a two-year period.

The proposed rule amendments remove the number of reprints allowed and the requirement for customers to sign an affidavit to receive a replacement license or permit.

The language of the proposed rule amendments can be found on FWP’s website at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/rules/pn_0302.html.

In addition, public comment can be submitted in writing to FWP, Attention Licensing, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701 or emailed to FWPLicensingRules@mt.gov. The deadline for public comment is March 27.

Purchase hunting and fishing licenses online; protocols in place at FWP offices – March 17th

In accordance with guidelines for social distancing related to COVID-19 and to protect the public as well as staff, Fish, Wildlife & Park strongly encourages hunters and anglers to make licensing purchases online at fwp.mt.gov. For those who need assistance with their purchase, please call the FWP licensing center at 406-444-2950 or your regional or area office.

FWP regional and headquarters offices remain open, but visitors will be required to follow protocol to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19. These protocols include:

· Entry to the lobby is limited and monitored by an FWP staff member.

· Visitors must wait outside until notified by FWP staff to enter.

· No cash will be accepted, only checks and credit or debit cards.

· The April 1 deadline for deer and elk, the May 1 deadline for moose, sheep, goat and bison, and the June 1 deadline for Elk B, Deer B, and antelope will remain in effect. These deadlines are set in statute.

· Please check with your local FWP office for hours of operation. To purchase licenses online, go to fwp.mt.gov and click on “License: Buy/Apply.” For more information on FWP’s response to COVID-19, go to http://fwp.mt.gov/covid19.

Know the phases of cold water immersion – March 12th

With ice coming off Montana’s lakes and rivers it’s important to remember that cold water can be deadly. If you are recreating on or around water this spring, remember to wear a life jacket and always tell someone where you are going and when you plan on returning.

Here are the phases of cold water immersion:

  • Cold shock (initial entry to 5 minutes): Gasping for breath and hyperventilation are natural reactions to cold water. Try to get your breathing under control and avoid panicking.
  • Cold Incapacitation & Swim Failure (5 to 30 minutes): During this time, you will lose dexterity and grip strength.  Cooling of arms and legs impairs the ability to swim. Even the best swimmers cannot continue to function in cold water.
  • Hypothermia: Cooling of the body’s core temperature eventually results in loss of consciousness. How quickly hypothermia sets in depends on the water temperature, body type, clothing and behavior. Always seek medical attention right away.

If you have any questions, please contact Sara Smith, Boating Education Coordinator for the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Recreational Boating Safety Program, at 406-444-5280 or sarsmith@mt.gov.

Launch restrictions lifted at Canyon Ferry Reservoir

Restrictions on Canyon Ferry reservoir boat launches have been removed allowing all boaters to access all boat ramps this year. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks sought to remove the launch restrictions after three years of testing resulted in no detections of invasive quagga or zebra mussels.

The discovery of invasive mussel larvae in Tiber reservoir and a suspect detection of Canyon Ferry reservoir prompted restrictions on boating access in 2017. Boaters were required to launch at designated boat ramps and go through a decontamination station when exiting the water.

Regional guidelines allow for the delisting of a suspect waterbody and the removal of the mandatory exit inspections if three years of monitoring show no detections of invasive mussels.

Restrictions on Tiber Reservoir will remain in place for at least two more years.

Last year, decontamination stations operated at four boat ramps on Canyon Ferry and conducted 7,920 inspections.

Watercraft inspections will be significantly reduced on Canyon Ferry, but FWP will maintain an inspection station at the Silos boat ramp and a roving crew that will operate at high-use boat ramps in the Missouri river system.

“With the recent discovery of adult mussels in a North and South Dakota, our mission to keep Montana’s waters free of mussels is more important than ever,” said FWP’s AIS Bureau Chief Thomas Woolf. “Boat owners and anglers need to do their part to protect our waters from invasive species and make sure their watercraft and gear are clean, drained and dry.”

Boat owners and anglers should follow the principles of clean, drain, dry to help protect our waters:

• Clean all mud and debris from the watercraft, trailer, waders and fishing equipment.
• Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
• Dry out watercraft, including dry wells, storage areas and compartments

For more information, visit CleanDrainDryMT.com or call 406-444-2440.

FWP Makes Decision Regarding Conservation Easement to Protect Habitat Along the Kootenai River near Troy

Conservation project would protect a key movement corridor for fish and wildlife species

Kalispell, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is recommending the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve the purchase of a conservation easement on the Wild River Conservation Easement Project in Lincoln County.

As proposed in Alternative B of an environmental assessment (EA), the recommendation would protect approximately 50 acres of important fish and wildlife habitat along the Kootenai River just northwest of Troy, Montana.

FWP released a draft EA for public comment from January 29 to February 17, 2020. FWP received 26 public comments. All issues and concerns raised are addressed in the decision notice.

The property is owned by The Vital Ground Foundation, which has been working over the last several years to purchase this property and protect it from residential development. The project is part of an area identified by biologists as the best linkage corridor for grizzly bears between the Purcell and Cabinet Mountains in the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area. FWP conserved a large portion of this linkage in 2012 with a 28,000-acre conservation easement in the Kootenai Valley. Vital Ground is working to conserve the remaining gaps in this area. This project would continue FWP’s collaborative effort by helping Vital Ground conserve this property and its important riparian and upland habitat.

Vital Ground would continue to own and manage the land while FWP would hold a conservation easement that would preclude future residential or commercial development and ensure the property is managed to benefit fish and wildlife habitat in perpetuity. Public access to the property would be allowed for fishing and bird watching opportunities. The conservation easement would not require Vital Ground to provide hunting access on this property due to the property’s small size and the proximity to U.S. Highway 2 and neighboring residences.

Copies of the decision notice are available at the FWP office, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell; Montana State Library, 1515 E. 6th Ave., Helena; FWP State Headquarters, 1420 E. 6th Ave., Helena; the FWP website at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/decisionNotices/; and available for viewing at local libraries.

For more information, contact Kris Tempel (406-751-4573; ktempel@mt.gov).

FWP looks to improve customer service with two changes to 2020 licenses

Hunters and anglers can expect a few changes this year when they buy their 2020 licenses starting March 1.

The most visible change Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks customers will see is a change to license paper. Starting this year, both licenses and carcass tags will be printed on normal-sized paper, and license buyers will be able to print them at home.

For years, FWP licenses and tags have been produced on weather-resistant paper. However, this paper is not only expensive, but requires printing technology so outdated that it’s almost impossible to replace. The switch to standard 8.5 by 11-inch paper will provide significant savings and ultimately be easier for customers.

What this means is hunters won’t have to wait for special permits or licenses to come in the mail from FWP, but rather will be able to print them at home or at their local license provider.

This change also will reinforce the ability in Montana to have your license electronically on your mobile device and not printed out in your pocket. While carcass tags still need to be printed out, other licenses, such as a fishing license, do not. If checked in the field, this electronic version of your license is perfectly legal.

FWP recommends that people carry small plastic bags with them while hunting, and place validated carcass tags in the bags before attaching them to an animal. Small plastic bags ideal for this application will be available at all license providers, but any small sandwich bag will work.

Additionally, in 2020, hunters applying for licenses or permits will be able to do so online or at an FWP office. Mail-in applications will no longer be accepted.

With modern technology, the number of online applications continues to steadily grow. Eighty-six percent of Montana hunters now choose this method.  The small percentage of mail-in applications creates a time-consuming, expensive and inefficient delay in the license-drawing process. Mail-in applications must be entered manually in the licensing system, leaving room for human error and delays. 

Customers who still look for written guidance to help them through the application process will be able to find information sheets online or at an FWP office in the coming weeks. These information sheets will not be accepted as applications.

This simple change means that drawing results will now be available two weeks after the application deadline, rather than six weeks, allowing hunters to begin making plans for the upcoming season that much earlier.

New Walleye and Perch Regulations Now in Effect on Holter Reservoir

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Anglers are reminded of a regulation change that began Jan. 1 for walleye and perch fishing at Holter Reservoir south of Great Falls.

Yellow perch limits are now 25 daily and in possession.

Walleye limits are now five daily, only one larger than 25 inches; and the possession limit is twice the daily limit.

The changes will be listed in the new fishing regulations, which will be out in time for the new license year that begins March 1.

New hunting and fishing licenses that are required starting March 1 are usually available for sale in mid-February.

Walleyes Unlimited is looking for a few good photos!

How would you like to show off your best catch for 2020 and be on the front page of Walleyes Unlimited website!? Submit your photos and story to our webmaster and good luck!

What is the Certified Boater Program?

  • The Certified Boater program was created to ease the inspection process for boat owners and decrease the volume of boats at decontamination stations at Canyon Ferry and Tiber Reservoirs. It allows watercraft inspectors to focus on boats traveling between many different waterbodies. 
  • A Certified Boater can depart from the reservoir without going through a full inspection and hot wash if their next boating trip is on this reservoir. 
  • A Certified Boater can access all OPEN boat ramps within their designated reservoir.
  • Boaters must register each year to be in the Certified Boater Program.
  • You can complete the certification process online. You must read the tutorial, pass the test, complete a registration form, and sign a contract agreeing to abide by the Certified Boater rules.  Remember, you’ll need your vessel and trailer licenses numbers and description of all vessels to complete certification. 
    • Your Certified Boater decals will be mailed to you within 5-working days.  If you want to complete the certification in person, you will need to travel to an FWP regional office to complete the certification process and receive your decals. Remember to bring your vessel and trailer licenses numbers and description of all vessels.

How do I become a certified boater?

New for 2019. You can complete the certification process online. You must read the tutorial, pass the test, complete a registration form, and sign a contract agreeing to abide by the Certified Boater rules.  Remember, you’ll need your vessel and trailer licenses numbers and description of all vessels to complete certification. Your Certified Boater decals will be mailed to you within 5-working days. 

If you want to complete the certification in person, you will need to travel to an FWP regional office to complete the certification process and receive your decals. Remember to bring your vessel and trailer licenses numbers and description of all vessels.

To be certified, you need to: Click here to visit FWP website for certification

  1. Choose either Canyon Ferry or Tiber as your designated area. You cannot be certified for both.
  2. Take the online test. A passing score (80%) will allow you to register your watercraft(s).
    1. NOTE: Internet Explorer is not supported for the certification. Please use another browser.
  3. Register your watercraft(s) online.
  4. You will receive your decals in the mail within 5 working days.

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